1. Use a template. Having a standardized format for content delivery helps ensure you don’t omit important information. Select a name for your newsletter that is recognizable. It can be as simple as “News from Maggie Toussaint” or you might take a different slant like my friend, JL Wilson, whose newsletter is titled, “As the author learns.” Decide upon a font and determine the number of columns. For longer newsletters, page numbers and table of contents are helpful features. Images engage readers, so sprinkle them liberally throughout the newsletter.
2. Start with a brief personal message. A greeting at the start of a newsletter sets the tone, personalizing the message and engaging the recipient immediately. Seeing their name in the newsletter gives you another moment of reader interest and creates the impetus to keep reading. Many utilities offer this personalization feature, or you can create a simple macro to plug the names into the space after “Dear”. Alternately, a global word such as “friends” might be employed for the less technologically savvy.
3. Deliver your news. Tell what’s new in your world. If you have a new book coming out, announce it here. Engage the reader with details and heighten the anticipation. Provide an update on your current books to ensure readers have a second chance to learn about them. Highlight any recent success of former books, such as a contest win, which helps readers feel good about their purchases.
4. Announce your appearance schedule. Booksigingings, talks to local groups, conferences, online activities (blogs, chats, workshops) are of interest to your readership. Remember to point out any media appearances on radio or TV. Provide links to interviews in print media and ezines. If you have an upcoming blog tour, mention stops on that tour and provide links.
5. Expand your focus to the larger picture. Provide a value-added bonus for your readers by sharing interesting insider information. Topics might include market news, bookstore news, e-readers, an interview with an industry professional (agent, editor, bookseller), etc.
6. Offer your opinion. This could be tied in with the larger picture, but it should be clearly labeled as your opinion. By taking a stand on a market-related issue, you have another chance to connect personally with readers and become viewed as an expert. The goal here is to win readers and not alienate them.
7. Include an article about author’s life. Readers want to know how authors get their ideas, how they write, how much they write and so on. You might illustrate a point of research or highlight a marketing hook on your upcoming book release to keep the focus on your new product. Alternately, this section might list your recent blog subjects with permalinks to the original posts.
8. Offer a glimpse into the products you use/read. If you’ve read or reviewed a good book lately, let your readers know. This helps further establish you as an expert in your field.
9. Share an unrelated interest. If you actively help a cause, such as Brenda Novak’s work with multiple sclerosis, a brief mention is appropriate. Alternately, if you have an amusing pet or hobby or love to cook, this is a good place to mention it in an engaging way. The idea is to continue to engage the reader, to further establish you as a friend.
10. Provide contact information. Make sure you give readers a way to connect with you. You could limit this to an email address, but in this day of social connectivity, providing your user names for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and other social media will help you stay connected to readers between newsletters. At a minimum, include your website and blog addy.
Above all, your newsletter should reflect who you are as a writer and a person. Keeping in mind that no one has time to read an encyclopedia, ensure your content is written in an engaging style and is to the point. There is no gold standard for length in newsletters, though shorter is perceived as better from the sense that readers will read the whole thing. If you find you have ten pages of content for a quarterly issue, consider putting out a one-pager every month.
Your goal as a newsletter writer is to provide value and drive product interest. A good newsletter will appeal to the senses and keep them coming back for more.
mystery and romance author
Death, Island Style and Murder in the Buff coming in March